Doctor says boy found in attic was day away from death

DE SOTO, Kansas - A pediatrician says a 6-year-old Johnson County boy who was found covered in his own filth in his mother's attic last year would have died within 24 hours if he hadn't been found.

Deputies found Giovanni starving and covered with excrement when they found him Aug. 17 in the attic of Rachel Perez's home in the 200 block of Center Drive in De Soto.

Dr. Lisa Spector testified Tuesday at the preliminary hearing for Perez. The 27-year-old is charged with attempted second-degree murder, child abuse and child endangerment.

"He really had no muscle tissue or fat tissue left on his body,” said Spector.

Giovanni's 5-year-old sister testified on video Tuesday that her mother sometimes hit her brother and told her and her sister to never tell that he was in the attic.

Giovanni’s grandparents had asked Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies to visit the family home.

When they arrived, Perez told them Giovanni was not there. At that time Perez was arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant.

When deputies went back to the house later that night, they found Giovanni, who has Down syndrome, in the attic.

Tuesday, the judge found probable cause for the charges against Perez. Perez was pregnant when she was arrested; she delivered her fourth child on Jan. 24.

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